A Bit of My Story

I grew up amidst cultural differences since my mother was a native of Detroit and my daddy was from Louisville.  One of my novitiate classmates once said that was the reason she thought I get along well with persons from the north and the south. My daddy worked hard as a bank teller but I recall that we couldn’t pay school fees until his pay day.  This experience made me very sensitive as principal in collecting fees.  My two brothers, baby sister and I enjoyed life.  We loved to watch and play sports but when I was a sophomore in high school, to my disappointment; my daddy told me I could no longer play football with the boys.  We had lively conversations at the dinner table and I had my share of arguments with my brothers, especially Dan who was only 13 months older than me.

I had SCNs throughout grade school at St. Brigid and I love to claim Presentation Academy as my alma mater so I was fortunate to have my educational formation from our community.  Immediately after high school, I entered the Congregation.

Being in mission as an SCN has been a challenging, exciting and at times demanding experience.  I have been privileged to serve in the small town of Owensboro, in the cities of Boston and Louisville and in rural areas of southern Maryland and five counties in northwest Alabama.  Because of the support of the Congregation, I have been blessed to learn from oppressed persons in several countries:  Venezuela, Belize, Mexico, India, Botswana, Mozambique and Nicaragua.  Each of these experiences has deepened my awareness of all that I take for granted in our privileged lifestyle as well as opening my heart to the love and hospitality of those who have so little of this world’s goods.

My journey in mission began in teaching elementary school, and continued through serving as a principal, a director of religious education, a pastoral associate, Vocation Director , Associate Director of the Archdiocese of Louisville Peace and Justice Office, Executive Director of House of Ruth followed by my present ministry as Vice President for Central Leadership.  This may sound unsettled but I have experienced the journey as a natural progression from education to pastoral care to vocation ministry to peace and justice ministry.

Two experiences of mission stand out among all these.  I first experienced living with the poor and learning from them in 1974 in the barrios of Caracas, Venezuela. This turned my life upside down and called me to examine all my values.  What I had considered “human” before that experience, I came to identify as white middle class values.  From that day to this, I continue to learn from the poorest persons in our world and I yearn to change the structures that continue their oppression.  I have sought to do this by beginning the Central America solidarity efforts in Louisville in 1980 and by starting, with my brother Dan, a sister parish relationship with a parish in Nicaragua in the mid-eighties. Both of these efforts are flourishing and their leadership was handed over to others years ago.  I have continued to teach about systemic change and to seek every form of advocacy available to us.

The mission experience that included all the others for me came in my years at House of Ruth. This mission called forth my experience in education, pastoral care and advocacy.   My heart aches for those who already struggle under the heavy burden of poverty and then are stigmatized because they suffer from HIV/AIDS.   I am grateful to these beautiful people for all they taught me – lessons that allow me to understand and support our sisters struggling against this pandemic in Botswana.

I am constantly renewed and energized by connecting a deep contemplative life to the activities of justice for the least – activities that keep us unpopular in our dominant culture.  For this reason, I am grateful to have served on the prayer committee of the General Assembly for many years.  I believe that we are called to be mystics and only the energy that comes from Christ crucified will keep us going in this world that cries to women religious from every side for comfort, for care and for justice.

I live in gratitude for the rich and diverse experiences that have been mine as a Sister of Charity of Nazareth.  My sentiments are summed up in the words of Dag Hammarskjold, “For all that has been, THANKS; to all that will be, YES!”